Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. Symptoms include breathing difficulty, cough, mucus (sputum) production and wheezing. It’s caused by long-term exposure to irritating gases or particulate matter, most often from cigarette smoke. People with COPD are at increased risk of developing heart disease, lung cancer and a variety of other conditions.
Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the two most common conditions that contribute to COPD. Chronic bronchitis is inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from the air sacs (alveoli) of the lungs. It’s characterized by daily cough and mucus (sputum) production.
Emphysema is a condition in which the alveoli at the end of the smallest air passages (bronchioles) of the lungs are destroyed as a result of damaging exposure to cigarette smoke and other irritating gases and particulate matter.
COPD is easily treatable and fully curable. With proper management, most people with COPD can achieve good symptom control and quality of life, as well as reduced risk of other associated conditions.
COPD symptoms often don’t appear until significant lung damage has occurred, and they usually worsen over time, particularly if smoking exposure continues. For chronic bronchitis, the main symptom is a daily cough and mucus (sputum) production at least three months a year for two consecutive years.
Other signs and symptoms of COPD may include:
- Shortness of breath, especially during physical activities
- Chest tightness
- Having to clear your throat first thing in the morning, due to excess mucus in your lungs
- A chronic cough that may produce mucus (sputum) that may be clear, white, yellow or greenish
- Blueness of the lips or fingernail beds (cyanosis)
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Lack of energy
- Unintended weight loss (in later stages)
- Swelling in ankles, feet or legs
People with COPD are also likely to experience episodes called exacerbations, during which their symptoms become worse than usual day-to-day variation and persist for at least several days.
The main cause of COPD in developed countries is tobacco smoking. In the developing world, COPD often occurs in people exposed to fumes from burning fuel for cooking and heating in poorly ventilated homes.
Only about 20 to 30 percent of chronic smokers may develop clinically apparent COPD, although many smokers with long smoking histories may develop reduced lung function. Some smokers develop less common lung conditions. They may be misdiagnosed as having COPD until a more thorough evaluation is performed.
How your lungs are affected
Air travels down your windpipe (trachea) and into your lungs through two large tubes (bronchi). Inside your lungs, these tubes divide many times — like the branches of a tree — into many smaller tubes (bronchioles) that end in clusters of tiny air sacs (alveoli).
The air sacs have very thin walls full of tiny blood vessels (capillaries). The oxygen in the air you inhale passes into these blood vessels and enters your bloodstream. At the same time, carbon dioxide — a gas that is a waste product of metabolism — is exhaled.
Your lungs rely on the natural elasticity of the bronchial tubes and air sacs to force air out of your body. COPD causes them to lose their elasticity and over expand, which leaves some air trapped in your lungs when you exhale.
Causes of airway obstruction
Causes of airway obstruction include:
- This lung disease causes destruction of the fragile walls and elastic fibers of the alveoli. Small airways collapse when you exhale, impairing airflow out of your lungs.
- Chronic bronchitis.In this condition, your bronchial tubes become inflamed and narrowed and your lungs produce more mucus, which can further block the narrowed tubes. You develop a chronic cough trying to clear your airways.
Cigarette smoke and other irritants
In the vast majority of cases, the lung damage that leads to COPD is caused by long-term cigarette smoking. But there are likely other factors at play in the development of COPD, such as a genetic susceptibility to the disease, because only about 20 to 30 percent of smokers may develop COPD.
Other irritants can cause COPD, including cigar smoke, secondhand smoke, pipe smoke, air pollution and workplace exposure to dust, smoke or fumes.
In about 1 percent of people with COPD, the disease results from a genetic disorder that causes low levels of a protein called alpha-1-antitrypsin. Alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAt) is made in the liver and secreted into the bloodstream to help protect the lungs. Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency can affect the liver as well as the lungs. Damage to the lung can occur in infants and children, not only adults with long smoking histories.
For adults with COPD related to AAt deficiency, treatment options include those used for people with more-common types of COPD. In addition, some people can be treated by replacing the missing AAt protein, which may prevent further damage to the lungs.
Risk factors for COPD include:
- Exposure to tobacco smoke. The most significant risk factor for COPD is long-term cigarette smoking. The more years you smoke and the more packs you smoke, the greater your risk. Pipe smokers, cigar smokers and marijuana smokers also may be at risk, as well as people exposed to large amounts of secondhand smoke.
- People with asthma who smoke. The combination of asthma, a chronic inflammatory airway disease, and smoking increases the risk of COPD even more.
- Occupational exposure to dusts and chemicals. Long-term exposure to chemical fumes, vapors and dusts in the workplace can irritate and inflame your lungs.
- Exposure to fumes from burning fuel. In the developing world, people exposed to fumes from burning fuel for cooking and heating in poorly ventilated homes are at higher risk of developing COPD.
- COPD develops slowly over years, so most people are at least 40 years old when symptoms begin.
- The uncommon genetic disorder alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency is the cause of some cases of COPD. Other genetic factors likely make certain smokers more susceptible to the disease.
COPD can cause many complications, including:
- Respiratory infections. People with COPD are more likely to catch colds, the flu and pneumonia. Any respiratory infection can make it much more difficult to breathe and could cause further damage to lung tissue. An annual flu vaccination and regular vaccination against pneumococcal pneumonia can prevent some infections.
- Heart problems. For reasons that aren’t fully understood, COPD can increase your risk of heart disease, including heart attack. Quitting smoking may reduce this risk.
- Lung cancer. People with COPD have a higher risk of developing lung cancer. Quitting smoking may reduce this risk.
- High blood pressure in lung arteries. COPD may cause high blood pressure in the arteries that bring blood to your lungs (pulmonary hypertension).
- Difficulty breathing can keep you from doing activities that you enjoy. And dealing with serious illness can contribute to development of depression. Talk to your doctor if you feel sad or helpless or think that you may be experiencing depression.
Unlike some diseases, COPD has a clear cause and a clear path of prevention. The majority of cases are directly related to cigarette smoking, and the best way to prevent COPD is to never smoke — or to stop smoking now.
If you’re a longtime smoker, these simple statements may not seem so simple, especially if you’ve tried quitting — once, twice or many times before. But keep trying to quit. It’s critical to find a tobacco cessation program that can help you quit for good. It’s your best chance for preventing damage to your lungs.
Occupational exposure to chemical fumes and dust is another risk factor for COPD. If you work with this type of lung irritant, talk to your supervisor about the best ways to protect yourself, such as using respiratory protective equipment.
COPD is commonly misdiagnosed — former smokers may sometimes be told they have COPD, when in reality they may have simple deconditioning or another less common lung condition. Likewise, many people who have COPD may not be diagnosed until the disease is advanced and interventions are less effective.
To diagnose your condition, your doctor will review your signs and symptoms, discuss your family and medical history, and discuss any exposure you’ve had to lung irritants — especially cigarette smoke.
A diagnosis of COPD is not the end of the world. Most people have mild forms of the disease for which little therapy is needed other than smoking cessation. Even for more advanced stages of disease, effective therapy is available that can control symptoms, reduce your risk of complications and exacerbations, and improve your ability to lead an active life.
What Varmasakshi offers for Patients with COPD?
Ancient Vedic Medical System offers permanent cure for most medical conditions. Though science may challenge the Vedic System, the one common word anyone uses is “God is great or it’s a miracle” when the cure happens, irrespective of religion. God and his miracles cannot be measured or substantiated by Science right?
At Varmasakshi, we follow our ancient Vedic system STRICTLY and all our treatment protocols are customized for each and every patient. When every finger is different, every person is different and every horoscope is different – how can the same treatment work for everyone? Your treatment and therapy is customized and structured based on many aspects and all the treatment protocols and even your diet is planned according to the Vedic System. All treatment aspects include:
Vedic Medical Astrology – In depth analysis of your horoscope from Medical Astrology point of view helps planning, structuring and deciding the treatment protocols. We use both Astrology and Astronomy to arrive at the most suitable time to initiate and continue therapy and we have seen in numerous instances that the cure happens much faster.
Vedic Medical Vaasthu Shastra – Not many people would have even heard about this. Vaasthu Shastra is based on the flow of energy and our experts will suggest the best possible remedies to ensure that your system receives the maximum amount of Positive energies, which are needed to cure you from your ailments. When combined with Medical Astrology, this plays a vital role in your therapy and helps your system cure well.
Varmakalai Therapy – There are 108 important Varma points and 7 Chakras in our human body. These points speak to our Varma Guru. Every point has significance and they breathe life. A complete assessment of these critical points and chakras will reveal the root cause of the issue and the therapy / treatment is planned and structured accordingly.
Vedic Diet – Vedic diet is a highly customized diet plan based on several years of deep research of our ancient Veda Shastras. Based on many aspects including Medical Astrology, planetary positions, planetary impacts, etc. our Guru will advise you on the best Vedic Diet that will help your medical condition vanish. “Food is Medicine” and in most situations, we have seen thousands of people coming out of their complicated medical conditions when they follow all these protocols committedly.
No science can ever explain why we were born or why we were born to specific parents or purpose of our birth or the potential sufferings that everyone goes through… There is a Super Power that is above us, who decides the plan and movement – some call it GOD, some call it FATE. If eclipses, planetary positions, good and bad times, disasters etc. were calculated without technology 50,000 years ago by our Maharishi’s, you can feel the depth of their knowledge and blessings. Our Veda Shastra’s are the oldest and following the Vedic System will help you in every walk of life! Ssree Guurbhyo Namaha!
The most essential step in any treatment plan for COPD is to stop all smoking. It’s the only way to keep COPD from getting worse — which can eventually reduce your ability to breathe. But quitting smoking isn’t easy. And this task may seem particularly daunting if you’ve tried to quit and have been unsuccessful.
Talk to your doctor about nicotine replacement products and medications that might help, as well as how to handle relapses. Your doctor may also recommend a support group for people who want to quit smoking. It’s also a good idea to avoid secondhand smoke exposure whenever possible.
Lifestyle and home remedies
If you have COPD, you can take steps to feel better and slow the damage to your lungs:
- Control your breathing. Talk to your doctor or respiratory therapist about techniques for breathing more efficiently throughout the day. Also be sure to discuss breathing positions and relaxation techniques that you can use when you’re short of breath.
- Clear your airways. With COPD, mucus tends to collect in your air passages and can be difficult to clear. Controlled coughing, drinking plenty of water and using a humidifier may help.
- Exercise regularly. It may seem difficult to exercise when you have trouble breathing, but regular exercise can improve your overall strength and endurance and strengthen your respiratory muscles. Discuss with your doctor which activities are appropriate for you.
- Eat healthy foods. A healthy diet can help you maintain your strength. If you’re underweight, your doctor may recommend nutritional supplements. If you’re overweight, losing weight can significantly help your breathing, especially during times of exertion.
- Avoid smoke and air pollution. In addition to quitting smoking, it’s important to avoid places where others smoke. Secondhand smoke may contribute to further lung damage. Other types of air pollution also can irritate your lungs.
See your doctor regularly. Stick to your appointment schedule, even if you’re feeling fine. It’s important to steadily monitor your lung function. And be sure to get your annual flu vaccine in the fall to help prevent infections that can worsen your COPD. Ask your doctor when you need the pneumococcal vaccine. Let your doctor know if you have worsening symptoms or you notice signs of infection.